Mountain Rwenzori vegetation zones
Mountain Rwenzori is also known as the “Mountains of the moon”. It is situated in the western region of Uganda. It is located in the East African Rift Valley and links to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the protected area is known as Virunga National Park. Mountain Rwenzori is Africa’s third highest mountain, rising 5,109m above sea level. Because it climbs above the clouds, the tallest mountain is usually snowcapped. The tallest peak on Mt Stanley is Margherita (5109m), followed by Albert (5087m) and Alexandria (5083m). Mount Speke is the fourth tallest peak, and Mount Baker is the fifth.
Henry Morton Stanley, an English explorer, named the mountain ranges the Rwenzori Mountains in 1899. He was a geographer and researcher who referred to Mount Rwenzori as “the Mountains of the Moon.” Rwenzori’s glaciers as one of the sources of the Nile, the world’s longest river. Rwenzori comprises 1000 square kilometers in western Uganda, and covers districts of Kasese, Kabarole, and Bundibugyo.
The park is well recognized for its magnificent plant life, glaciers, mountainous vegetation, waterfalls, snow peaks, bamboo and rich wet montane forest. The lower slopes are covered in moorland, massive tree heathers, and eternal flowers. All of this contributes to the attractiveness and beauty of the scenery. In fact, the peak is believed to contain some of the most beautiful Alpine scenery in the world.
THE RWENZORI VEGETATION
The Rwenzoris span 120 kilometers and include mountains such as Mount Baker (4843 meters), Mount Speke (4890 meters), Mount Stanley (5109 meters), Mount Luigi di Savoia (4627 meters), Mount Gessi (4715 meters), and Mount Emin (4798 meters). Mount Stanley is the tallest range and has numerous peaks the highest of which is Margherita peak. The vegetation changes in accordance to the height as you climb to these mountains.
This vegetation ranges in elevation from 1800 to 2500 meters above sea level. The trees are medium in size, and the forest canopy appears to be damaged. The yellow wood tree (often known as stink wood) is podocarpus milanjianus, Symphonia globulifera (which has waxy red blooms) and vernonia adolfi-friderici are common trees in this area. Among the plants are wild bananas, tree ferns, begonias, and balasms.
This is located between 2500 and 3000 meters above sea level on gentle hills with good soil. The ground is always thickly littered with bamboo leaves. On steep and rocky slopes, bamboo is replaced by tangled undergrowth of Mimulopsis ellioti, an Acanthus-type shrub. Lobelia gibberoa (a huge lobelia) grows in moist and swampy areas. On narrow ridges, giant heathers, philippia johnstonii, and Erica kingaensis flourish. In this area, Helichrysum everlastings begin to appear. Bamboo blossoms at roughly thirty-year periods. Some of the trees that grow in the montane zone are hagenia abyssinica (a spreading tree with yellow blossoms), podocarpus milanjianus, Dombeya sp, Afrocrania volkensii, Maesa lanceolata, and Dracaena aframontana. There are numerous shrubs and herbaceous plants, including the Rwenzori black berry, tree fans, and scarlet flowers, among others.
The heather zone is located between 3,000 and 4,000 meters in elevation. The heather woodland only grows in poor soil, on ridge tops, rocky and fairly swampy areas. The tree trunks and ground are thickly covered in Sphagnum moss, while the branches are wrapped in Usnea beard lichens. This zone has species such as the coral pink ground orchid, Disa stairsii, a scarlet and mauve balsam, Impatiens runsorrensis. There are numerous Philippia trimera and Erica kingaensis tree heathers, both of which produce pink flowers on occasion. The valleys are covered in vast bogs that are nearly entirely occupied by the tussock-growing carex runsorrensis. The ground is covered with Sphagnum moss between the tussocks, and fine lobelia can be observed. On well-drained slopes, mixed woodland includes small shrubby trees with rhododendron-like leaves, among other things. This zone has groundsel trees and lobelias. Everlasting flowers and moss make up the undergrowth.
The alpine is from 4000- 4500 meters in elevation and has swampy vegetation that includes huge grondsels. These grow in abundance on all deep and well-watered soils. Carex tussocks and few rushes cover the bogs and lake edges. Tree heathers grow in this zone’s lower parts, although in small numbers. On the rocky areas of this zone, short grasses and moss thrive. Above 4,300 meters, there is only moss, blackish lichen, and a few everlasting tiny plants with white woolly hairs that grow to a height of twelve inches or fewer.
The glacier and the rock
This is located between 4500 and 5000 meters in elevation, and there is exposed rock and glacier, particularly on Mount Stanley. The summits are rocky during the dry season and usually covered in ice during the rainy season.